Approximately 100 Baltimore high school students took a conceptual journey to Wakanda during the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.
The “Wakanda Design Challenge,” named after the fictional country located in Sub-Saharan Africa in Marvel’s blockbuster film “Black Panther,” gave
Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) students the opportunity to exercise creative problem solving skills needed for future technology careers.
Tammy Golden, General Motors’ Plant Director, Global Propulsion Systems, delivered opening remarks, and served as a judge for the challenge, which took place Sept. 13, sponsored by GM (
No. 31 on The 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list).
Golden said that electrical vehicles in GM’s portfolio have traveled over 2 billion miles, and “we’ve also saved $106 million dollars in gas,” she added.
“How do we get this all done” Golden asked the students. “We get this all done with engineers.
“Our work in STEAM focuses on getting youth excited about being those next innovators that want to solve complex challenges.
“Immersive learning, or hands-on experience learning, such as the project you’re about to participate in today, helps gives us an eye into the life of an engineer.”
Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) places an emphasis on art and design at the center of STEM. Students were tasked to design a device that would help a superhero be mobile in the case he or she could no longer walk.
Golden told DiversityInc that she’s been working with diverse students for more than five years on GM initiatives to inspire them to seek careers in engineering.
“What I’ve learned is that the potential is limitless,” she said. “Our goal is to close the gap on information because that’s what they’re lacking.”
Golden said the students are innovative, “but we awaken [the innovation] by closing the gap.”
“A lot of kids don’t know what an engineer is,” she added. “When we create the picture of what an engineer is, then the potential is unleashed.”
From left to right: Artist Patrick Hunter of Patcasso Art, LLC; VP of Policy Analysis and Research at the CBCALC Dr. Menna Demessie; Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.); General Motors Plant Director, Global Propulsion Systems, Tammy Golden; Award-winning journalist and author Jesse Holland. DIVERSITYINC
Golden said, according to research, “we need to focus on the grades 4 through 8, if we’re going to get them interested.”
GM is creating opportunities for today’s students to become tomorrow’s innovators through increased access and mentorship.
The company’s STEAM education focuses on solving complex challenges through the following tools:
- Immersive Learning: Hands-on experiences that encourage engagement.
- Computational Thinking: Developing skills like problem solving, pattern recognition, experimenting, expressing and creating.
- Artificial Intelligence: Exploring AI-powered technologies to facilitate teaching and learning in this space.
- Digitization of Education: Using digital tools and resources to transform how learning is organized, delivered, and experienced inside and outside the classroom.
Along with Golden, Jesse Holland, award-winning journalist and author of “Who Is the Black Panther” Marvel’s official companion novel for the film, served as a judge for the student projects.
Holland also showed the students how to do a proper Wakanda salute.